Afternoon of a Faun (État Libre d'Orange)

Justin Vivian Bond is one of humankind's great and graceful originals. I cannot watch the extraordinary final sequence of Shortbus without thinking so; every time, the tears in my eyes are largely V's doing. (Or is it John Cameron Mitchell's? His lovely arrows always do locate the exact center of my heart.)

Anyway, the Once and Future Kiki desired a signature fragrance -- a "transcent... for the person who is Everything" -- and État Libre d'Orange (ever-faithful in the service of enchantment!) declared itself up to the challenge. V asked for "sex in the grass in the afternoon with flowers nearby". V wish is our command, said État Libre d'Orange. The original brief suggests the fragrance be called "Mx", the gender-neutral prefix of V's own preference, as well as a trans/formative tribute to Radical Faeries past, present, and future. One such figure was Vaslav Nijinksy, the brilliant young choreographer of the Ballet Russe's revolutionary L'Après-Midi d'un Faune, first staged in 1912. Its approaching centennial caused all the separate strands of inspiration to mesh together like magic.

Afternoon of a Faun is a savory leather chypre with a classic profile and an age-old kink in its soul. It's a perfume without gender, but it is certainly not a perfume without sex. (In the grass... in the afternoon... with flowers nearby.) There's fauns and nymphs and satyrs and dryads frolicking in this formula-- but more importantly, there's more than two pronouns.

Don't fret. You'll get used to it. Just lie back, relax... and say hello to holy ecstasy.

I don't bandy about the word 'holy' lightly. There is something in this jus which feels ancient, ceremonial, even sacramental-- scented sex magic of the purest and most joyful order. In an odd stroke of coincidence, when I first wore it, something in its intense rose-geranium accord reminded me keenly of Attar Bazaar's India Gulab, another fragrance conflated in my mind with gender-queer expression, sacred hierogamy, and the generous, world-wise humor of the hetairai. I love it enough to dread the eventuality of my tiny sample running low-- always a sign that a dedication ("from the top of my head to the soles of my feet...") will soon be made. It is, as they say, a consummation devoutly to be wished.

Scent Elements: Bergamot, pepper, cinnamon, incense, immortelle, iris, myrrh, leather, benzoin, rose, geranium, jasmine, oakmoss